Patricia de Lille faced the DA in court for the second time today to review her application for the court to review the decision to cease her party membership. Both sides of the appeal are being heard by a full bench in the High Court on Monday and Tuesday after the hearing was postponed on the 25th of May when the judges requested more time to review the submissions.
De Lille was awarded interim relief on the 15th of May, allowing her to continue in her role as Mayor of Cape Town until the court had settled on a decision.
De Lille argued in her original papers that her axing from the DA on May 8 was unconstitutional and incorrectly applied. She claimed that the DA was infringing on her rights by claiming that she had "self-resigned" during an interview on talk radio 702 in April – in accordance to the DA's law, when a member publicly states their intention to leave the party, their membership ceases. However, De Lille said that didn't declare that she was resigning immediately and that she said her resignation would be from her position as mayor and not her position in the party itself.
"The DA's recall clause is ridiculous," argues Dali Mpofu, De Lille's advocate. It's "irrational" in that it affects members' rights to join another political party. Mpofu says that the party's values include freedom and fairness, and application of the clause will violate these values. He also argued in favour of the right of "freedom of association" saying that "If your removal from the party of your choice can be so easy, that threatens your right to freedom of association."
Mpofu said that De Lille had not stated her deliberate plan to resign on the radio show and that a letter that was sent by DA federal council chairperson, James Selfe, to the City council should actually have been sent by the DA Western Cape leader, Bonginkosi Madikizela. The DA's counsel Advocate, Sean Rosenberg, on the other hand, claimed that De Lille's comments during the radio interview showed a clear purpose to leave her party. The party's decision was therefore not a "decision" but a "determination" confirming what De Lille had already declared the day that she said she would be resigning. In additional affidavits submitted last week, De Lille said the DA's redefining of its decision as a "determination" was "just pure obfuscation".
De Lille also accused the party of withholding and secreting information as Selfe's letter submitted to council contained information regarding De Lille losing her seat. Selfe denied hiding any information and confirmed that Madikizela had submitted his own letter to council on the same day after the municipal manager denied Selfe's letter, needing the signature of a provincial leader. Advocate Johan de Waal, arguing on behalf of De Lille, deemed the DA's accusations an "overreaction" and that their accusations of De Lille showing disloyalty are misplaced, saying: "She wanted to use party processes to clear her name."
After De Waal's closing argument, the court was adjourned until tomorrow morning, at 10:00 after which the final decision will be made.